The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a report released March 18 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Housing Alliance Delaware, finds a national shortage of nearly 7 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of their area median income.
The report shows that even before COVID-19 devastated many low-income households, they were already struggling to afford their rent.
Every year, the Gap reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals. In the 2020 report released by Housing Alliance Delaware, the organization stated that the creation of affordable housing units in Delaware was not keeping pace with demand, and that due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, demand was likely to increase in 2021. Now, three months into 2021, this prediction has already been realized.
“Delaware is in a housing crisis,” said Rachel Stucker, executive director of Housing Alliance Delaware. “We must immediately react to the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”
In Delaware, there are 27,524 extremely low-income households and a shortage of 19,915 affordable rental homes. The result is only 28 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income households.
Approximately 25 percent of extremely low-income renters – more than 6,800 households – in Delaware are severely cost burdened and at risk of homelessness. Without public subsidies, the private market does not provide an adequate supply of housing for low-income households. The government has an essential role to play to correct for this market failure.
The crisis created by COVID-19 has made it clearer than ever that stable, affordable housing for all is an imperative for public health and individual well-being. When it became vital to maintain social distancing, many families – disproportionately people of color – struggled to stay in their homes.
As the Gap report shows, ending the long-term problem of housing affordability will require significant and sustained investments. A serious commitment to the production and preservation of affordable housing is needed, as are stronger legal protections for renters in Delaware.
Millions of dollars are coming to the state to provide rental assistance directly to landlords and renters. No one should lose their home in 2021 due to an inability to pay rent. Without sustained investments and ongoing protections, the lowest-income renters will continue to be a hair’s breadth from displacement and homelessness.